The value of settlement comes in resolving the dispute faster and more inexpensively than the litigation route. In most (not all) cases, it is better to compromise than to win the battles, but lose the war. Making compromise for the sake of compromise is just giving up for the sake of giving up. Many people think that they can avoid all or most of the pain, inconvenience, and expense of a divorce action by settling the case early. Maybe, but the odds are against it. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Quick and cheap settlement is much easier said than done, but it can (and should) be done. You’ll have to work just as hard to get a fair settlement mediating or negotiating a settlement out of court as you would in court to get a fair, workable settlement. 1. Determine your objectives clearly. 2. Propose settlement early, and stick to your position, changing only as truly needed (and don’t be afraid to change as truly needed). 3. Negotiate from a position of strength. 4. Be fair and act with class, even if your spouse and his/her attorney do not. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s an effective component of superior negotiation. 5. Do not deal out of fear or anger. 6. Don’t cave in to threats or appeals to sympathy or guilt, even if you don’t have a lot going for your case. You won’t get any martyr points for selling yourself short. 7. To get a good settlement you can’t take shortcuts. 8. If you don’t fully understand your problem, you can’t effectively solve it, and you risk making a hasty and bad deal. Once you’ve made the deal and signed the settlement agreement, it is extremely hard to get out of it or even just to change it. And if you are lucky enough to get the deal changed, it will likely come at a very steep cost. So: a. Know and understand all the necessary data needed to make informed decisions and persuasive arguments. b. Know and understand the law (which, by the way, is all over the map, so if you reach that same conclusion as you study divorce laws, know that you’re neither crazy nor stupid). Know where the law and the facts benefit you and where they hurt you. c. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as those of your spouse’s case.